15 Lessons I Wish I Knew Before College

15 Lessons I Wish I Knew Before College

There are a lot of things about college I wish someone would have explained to me - here are a few.
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There are a lot of things about college that are way different from high school, that totally goes without saying. You're miles away from home, just to begin with. Or maybe you're not, but you're still surrounded by a million new people and a million new things and thousands more opportunities. Here are a few things I've learned so far in college that I wish someone had told me:

1. Your Immune System is NOT a Brick Wall

If you never, ever got sick in high school and you're thinking that college is going to be the same way, think again. There's new people, a new atmosphere, and new germs. I never got sick in high school, but here I am battling a cold in the middle of Philadelphia! I'm telling you, bring along some medicine and DRINK WATER. Seriously, do everything you can to keep yourself healthy; you'll be happy about it later.

2. Take Advantage of FREE Things

It's no secret that college is really expensive, but if you go to the right kind of university, you'll be surrounded by weird little free things that you should take advantage of! Seriously. Utilize things that are free to students, even if you don't feel like you need to. You'll use that free water bottle, I promise you. Learn how to manage your money! You won't be sorry you did.

3. People Who Suck in High School Will Not Magically Change

It's just a fact of life. Some people get totally stuck in the glory days of high school. Let them be. It's not necessarily a bad thing to have loved your high school days and love the memories you've made - in fact, it's a good thing. Just know that the people who were miserable and mean in high school are probably going to be miserable and mean in college. Attitude is everything - make sure yours is good.

4. Call Your Parents

You're going to miss them, even if you don't think you will. You're going to miss home cooked meals and chicken noodle soup when you're sick and you're even going to miss stepping on your brother's legos. (OK, only a little, those things really hurt.) Call your family. Tell them you miss them. Tell them you love them. You'll only feel good about it.

5. Engage With Other People

Making friends in college is a lot like making friends in elementary school - if you're pleasant and just make conversation, boom you've got someone to wave hi to in passing. You may even find that the kid that sits next to you in English is tons of fun and maybe you'll become friends. Even if you're in a lecture with five or six hundred people, say hi to the person next to you. There's a very slim chance they won't say hi back.

6. Make Friends Outside of your Major

There are so many people on a college campus, it's not hard to find someone who is similar - or different - than you. You spend a lot of time with the people in your major, but it's important to get to know other people's views and branch out sometimes. There's no shortage of people to talk to and meet. Join some clubs! It's the easiest way to find people who like the same things. And, it'll get you out of your room!

7. You Live With the People on your Floor

What I mean by this is: don't leave your laundry in the dryer, respect quiet hours, and step outside your room sometimes. It's pointless to start petty drama with the people on your floor, because you have to live with them. Seriously. Go outside and make friends with the people next door to you - they've got you when you need some sugar or a spoon.

8. Make Friends with the RA

They're only there to help you. Unless they've totally got it out for you, they'll probably leave you alone. But it's a really good idea to get on good terms with them, because they know their way around campus and will tell you a bunch of cool stuff if you ask the right questions. Don't try to fight them on everything. It'll only get you written up when something goes wrong.

9. Find Time to do Something for Yourself

Living with a roommate and being constantly surrounded by people can be fun, but make sure you find some time alone. Whether that be walking to get some coffee, finding a quiet little reading corner, or doing something nice for yourself. It's important to keep yourself grounded, especially when you're surrounded by so much excitement. Do yoga or go to the park! Do anything! Your body and mind will thank you.

10. You Don't Have to be the Same Person You Were in High School

When everyone tells you that college is different from high school, listen to them. It so is. You can totally reinvent yourself if you want to. Embrace the changes and be who YOU want to be.

11. No One Cares

What I mean by this is: if you want to go get pizza in your pajamas at 12 AM, really, no one cares. In high school it's easy to get caught up in wanting to look cool and making sure everyone likes you, etc. In college, no one else really cares what you do, which is kind of great. You can dress up for class, or you can wear sweats. You can do both in one week. No one's gonna bat an eye.

12. GO OUT

Going out does NOT have to mean partying. Going out to the movies or to dinner with your friends or just to do something fun is really important. Don't stay holed up in your room. Just find some time to laugh. And if partying is what you want to do, then do it. (Just study Sunday through Thursday!) It doesn't make a difference what it is you do. No one will care if you don't go to the party, and similarly, no one's going to judge if you do. Just get out sometimes.

13. Do Your Homework - Save Online Shopping for When ou're Done

We all have computers, and it's really easy to get bored of writing that essay or doing the readings and way more fun to online shop or check Twitter. Resist the urge. The sweater is not going to sell out in the next five minutes. If you get your homework done now, you have more time for fun later. Studying now means that when your friends want to go for ice cream, you can say yes.

14. Do the Readings

Pop quizzes are totally a thing. Even if you think it's not going to make a difference if you read the article, it really is.

15. HAVE FUN

You're in college first and foremost, to learn. You should be doing a lot of learning - about the subjects you study, about the world, and about yourself. In between all that learning, find some time to have fun. Like I said before: Having fun doesn't need to mean going out. Just find time to laugh and talk and engage with other people. Netflix will still be there - the opportunity to make a memory won't. But, opportunities will keep coming. Go out and seize one.


Cover Image Credit: Google

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To High School Seniors In Their Last Semester

Senior year moves pretty fast; if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
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Dammit, you made it. The final semester of your senior year. You’re at the top of the food chain of high school, and it feels so good. You’re probably praying this last semester flies by, that you get out of town as soon as possible.

At this point, you’re calling teachers by their first names, the entire staff knows you by name, and you’re walking around school standing tall, owning those hallways. You’re convinced you’re ready to leave and move on to the next chapter in your life.

You’ve already experienced your last football game, standing in the cold in the front row of the student section all season long, decked out in your school colors and cheering loud and proud. That is, until they lost, and you realized you will never have that experience again. Never again.

SEE ALSO: What I Wish I Knew As A Second-Semester High School Senior

You already had your last winter break. Preparing and celebrating the holidays with your family, ice skating and sledding with your best friends. Those quiet nights alone in your room watching Netflix, taking for granted your loved ones just a few rooms away. Never again.

If you’re an athlete, you may have already played in your last game or ran your last race. The crowd cheering, proudly wearing your school’s name across your chest, giving it your all. For some, it may be the end of your athletic career. Before you knew it, you were standing in an empty gym, staring up at the banners and thinking about the mark you left on your school, wondering where on earth the time went. Never again.

I’m telling you right now, you’re going to miss it all. Everything you’ve ever known. Those early mornings when you debate going to first hour because you really need those McDonald’s hash browns. The late nights driving home from practice, stopping for ice cream of course, ready for a late night of homework. Getting food on a whim with your friends. Endless fights with your siblings. Your favorite chips in the pantry. A fridge full of food. Coming home to and getting tackled by your dog. Driving around your hometown, passing the same sights you’ve seen every day for as long as you can remember. Hugs from your mom after a long day. Laughs with your dad. And that best friend of yours? You’re going to miss them more than anything. I’m telling you right now, nothing will ever be the same. Never again.

SEE ALSO: I'm The Girl That Enjoyed High School

Before you start packing your bags, slow down, take a deep breath, and look around. You’ve got it pretty good here. The end of your senior year can be the time of your life; it’s truly amazing. So go to the winter dance, go to Prom, spend Senior Skip Day with your classmates, go to every sporting event you can, while you still can. College is pretty great, but it’s the little things you’re gonna miss the most. Don’t take it for granted because soon, you’ll be standing in a packed gym in your cap and gown, wondering where the heck the time went. You’ve got a long, beautiful life ahead of you, full of joy but also full of challenges. You’re going to meet so many wonderful people, people who will treat you right and people who won’t.


So, take it all in. Be excited for the future and look forward to it, but be mindful of the present. You’ve got this.
Cover Image Credit: Hartford Courant

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Competition Isn’t Real, So Stop Worrying About What You Think Is Your 'Competition'

When you stop worrying about being better than "your competition," you will succeed.

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"What are your plans for after College?" is the one question every college student wishes they could never hear again. After hearing those seven short words, the body of the college student is flooded with waves of irritation, paranoia, and worry.

When you set all your triggered thoughts and anxieties aside and manage to hurl out an answer, you're probably told "That's nice, but how are you going to get a job? That field is so competitive." At this point, you are probably ready to excuse yourself from the conversation for a timely breakdown.

Throughout high school, conversations at family gatherings and holiday parties typically went through this vicious cycle.

A naive junior in high school who was quick to say his major was going to be Musical Theater in college was always infuriated by the response "You'll never find work. That field is so competitive."

After a while, I started to believe it and decided to look elsewhere for a career path. I considered nursing, to where I was told how competitive college nursing programs are, and how little students they accept. I figured I wouldn't stand a chance, so I kept looking.

I circled back to the theater and was reminded by everybody how rigorous the Musical Theater college audition process was, and how they only accept a handful of kids. Surely there were other students more capable than me, and I wasn't going to let the ridiculously annoying boastful comments of theater kids ruin my search for my path in life.

My Dad always reminds me how much money I could make pursuing business, but working a 9-5 desk job dealing with hot-headed businessmen being choked by the tightness of their neckties never appealed me.

I felt fatigued like I was being told that I need to pursue what other people want me to, instead of following my dreams.

At this time I was a senior in High School, and my CommonApp was filled with prospective schools that I might attend, but the "intended major" section part of each application wasn't filled.

The loud "you can't" and "you'll NEVER get work" boomed in my ear until I was convinced I couldn't follow my dreams of becoming an actor, so I caved and intended to pursue journalism. I was told by all my teachers I was a gifted writer, so I figured it would be worth a shot.

"You can always do theater on the side," is what I heard. Now in college pursuing journalism, a field I was told: "will be one I can actually get a job in," some professors tell me after graduation, I will be doing journalism "on the side" because of how "competitive" the field is.

All occupational fields are competitive, whether that be communications, business, nursing, etc. Here is one thing that I learned through this experience and many others…

You have no competition.

In the eyes of someone who is hiring for a job, they are going to pick whoever's work they feel best fits the position. This isn't the product of a cutthroat field, it's solely the product of your work fitting the part.

You can't mash two puzzle pieces together because you THINK it's what fits, whatever is meant for you will come to you. Your puzzle pieces will fit together naturally.

In the end, it will come together to form a beautiful picture.

As for me, I decided to tune out the comments about competitive fields. What used to consume me cannot phase me anymore.

I still intend to pursue my dreams of becoming a performer, and at every audition I will remind myself that it is not the field that is competitive, there is no competition. The performer sitting next to me at an open call is not my competition, but my inspiration to work hard to find the job that will best fit me.

In the words of Cinderella, "there is one thing, they can't order me to stop dreaming."

The reporter who grabs every single story shouldn't turn me into someone who viciously grabs every story they can to build their portfolio, it should make me look for stories I WANT to tell that will progress me as a writer. After all, I am still learning.

I learned that I shouldn't belittle other people that are deemed "my competition" to disorient them, giving me a better chance at getting a job. Kindness will be more rewarding than contributing to the vicious dog-eat-dog world.

"I'm not in competition with anyone except who I used to be, and everything I do now is just an evolved version of something I've done before" -Kali Uchis

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